Q1. You’ve had a very varied career, including working as a stand-up comic and in children’s theatre. What has been the most helpful with your writing for children?
Well doing stand-up obviously hones your joke-writing skills, which I guess has been helpful to me since most things I write tend to be funny. Or at least they’re meant to be. It’s not that I ‘don’t do straight’ – it’s just that my natural author voice is not a terribly serious one. I actually find it hard to take myself too seriously. Don’t know whether that’s me being naturally self-deprecating or the fact that a dozen books into my ‘career’ – and I use the term in the loosest possible sense – I feel incredibly lucky to be doing what I’m doing. So overall, in answer to your question I’d say playing the main baddie in a horror movie. Outpost if you’re interested. Or even if you’re not. (Outpost Black Sun coming soon.)
Q2. Do you like proper biscuits or Jammie Dodgers (ie are you Grandpa or Norm)? What does your choice of biscuit tells us about you?
I try to stay clear of biscuits as much as I can. Once I start there’s no stopping me. Biscuits are basically evil. Proper biscuits versus Jammie Dodgers? Isn’t it technically illegal to eat Jammie Dodgers over the age of 10? I’ll eat pretty much anything – but if you’re asking me – and let’s face it, you are – I like a ginger nut, me. What does that say about me? It says I’ve got three red-haired boys.
Q3. What were the books that really made you laugh as a child?
Been scratching my head to think of any. Clearly there was a Norm-shaped gap in the market even then. (Altogether now – ‘If I could turn back time!’) I actually don’t think I was terribly into out and out funny books. I was into any books. And comics. The Beano variety – as opposed to the Marvel variety. I think the first books to make me laugh out loud would have been PG Wodehouse when I was in my early teens. They still make me laugh several years later.
Q4. Tell us your best joke?
I applied for a job as a philosopher. They said they’d think about it. (And that’s why I don’t do stand-up anymore folks.)